Q&A: Harvey-Clemons talks safety, nickel

ATHENS, Ga. -- Perhaps the most talked-about freshman thus far in Georgia’s preseason camp is outside linebacker-turned safety Josh Harvey-Clemons.

At 6-foot-5, he possesses size that is highly unusual for a defensive back, but his ball skills are good enough for Georgia’s coaches to shift him to the secondary when he didn’t weigh enough to play linebacker when camp opened.

Harvey-Clemons spoke with reporters for the first time this preseason after Thursday’s practice. Here is some of what he had to say:

How’s everything going so far?

Everything’s going good. I’m just trying to learn the plays and really learn what to do and fit in with the team, really.

When did you find out you were going to be at DB to start out?

Probably like two days before camp started. They felt that I hadn’t put on the weight that I needed to play inside. And I had played a little bit of safety in high school, so it really wasn’t that big of a transition.

Did you play some nickel this summer?

Yes sir, I did.

Is that pretty much what you did all summer?

Yeah, mostly the nickel. And I’m trying to learn the safety and kind of both, really.

How did you take it when they told you you’d have to play safety?

I really didn’t mind. I was going to play wherever they wanted me to play because I knew myself that I wasn’t at the right weight to be down there with those big tight ends and tackles. And I know that’s the same thing that happened with Tree [linebacker Alec Ogletree] so I just went along with it.

Do you think it will be like with Tree, where next year you’ll be playing linebacker?

I hope, if I can put on the weight.

What is the weight you want to weigh to be able to do that?

I want to weigh at least, myself, at least 240. Somewhere up in there. Somewhere close.

Did you work just at safety in the scrimmage yesterday?

Mostly nickel work. Matter of fact, I didn’t play at safety at all. I just played all nickel.

What do you weigh right now?

About 208, 210. Somewhere in there.

So that’s a lot of work.

Yeah a lot of work.

How will you put on 30 pounds?

I don’t know, just work hard in the weight room, I guess, and protein. Just see where my body takes me.

Did you have any more interceptions today? Shawn Williams said yesterday that you had four.

No, I didn’t have any today. I should have had one yesterday, but I dropped it. So just four right now.

Are you still leading the secondary?

Yes sir. I think Sanders [Commings], he might be coming. I think he got one today and he had one yesterday, so I think he might have three or four.

Does that surprise you that you’ve got so many?

Well, I don’t know. I’ve just been in the right place at the right time, I guess.

There was some talk about them playing you at receiver some this year. Have they given you any reps there yet?

Not yet. I’ve really been just trying to learn the defense because it’s a lot different from high school. We didn’t really run a lot of plays on defense, so it’s a big change for me and I’m just trying to get that down pat first.

Are you still hoping that they’re going to give you that opportunity this season?

Yes sir, I am.

Are you working on some special teams units?

Yes sir, I’m on kickoff -- basically all of them, really, except for field goal, field goal block.

Do you have a better comfort at either free or strong safety yet?

I really like the strong because I feel like I’m closer down and can make a lot more tackles on ball carriers and stuff. But they moved me back to free like yesterday, so it’s just going back and forth. I just really have to learn both of them, really, and learn from [Bacarri] Rambo and [Shawn Williams].

How has your grandfather taken to you being a Georgia Bulldog now?

Well he’s loving it now, matter of fact. He was up here Monday, matter of fact, for our first pads practice and he got on his Georgia gear and everything. It’s just he’s excited. I think he’s a little more excited than I am. But really he was just worried about the drive and being able to come see me as much. But he’s liking it now.

Let’s hear your evaluation on how Jordan [Jenkins] and [James] DeLoach and [Josh] Dawson are doing.

Jordan, I know I’ve seen Jordan and Dawson make some big hits at practice the first couple of plays. They’re really working, especially Jordan being able to handle those guys as a freshman. And Josh Dawson making hits like that just coming in, I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be like the next couple of years.

That’s four outside linebackers that have good potential. Did you look at that group coming in and realize how good that bunch could be?

Yeah, that’s why I was telling people that I felt like Georgia was the fit for me, because the guys that I’m coming in with and the type of team that it is and the players, we basically have the same mindset and everything like that. I feel like we’re going to really take it somewhere good, somewhere special.